To say it's been a rough few weeks for the boys varsity basketball team would be putting it very lightly. They suffered through a plague of injuries and transitions from last year into this year. However, last Friday night, Port's team seemed to be revived in front of their hometown fans in a spirited victory over Long Beach (3-4), to improve their league record to (2-4). It was a must needed victory for the Vikings if they are to have any hope of making it to the playoffs and playing for a county championship. But if they continue to play the way they did last Friday night, those dreams might not be so far fetched after all.
With a girls PYA night going on before the boys game last Friday, which included two girls basketball games, the boys game started late, around 8 o'clock. However, this did not stop the fans from coming out and supporting their team. It was also the return of Ira James, a tall, lean ball hawk, who is a terrific scorer from both inside the paint and from long range. Port came out early firing on all cylinders. Led by star guard Brian Moran, Port was able to bring up the ball without as many turnovers, something that they had struggled with in many of their previous games. Credit has to be given to Moran for keeping the game at his tempo and not trying to force balls where turnovers could have occurred. Fred Dumpson was also able to penetrate from the baseline much more in this matchup, which allowed him to score 16 points and grab 8 boards. The Vikings jumped out to a huge lead in the first quarter by a score of 18-9, but with some defensive lapses, especially in the paint and around the basket, Port had a small lead of just six points with the score being 37-31 at halftime.
The second half started out much like the first half started, with a huge Port run. Led once again by Moran, who led all Port scorers with 19 points, the Vikings were able to find the open man time and time again, to get the best shot possible. Mike Ryder added some key points in the third quarter along with some stellar play from James who had an electrifying putback jam off a missed shot. The slam had people in the stands going crazy, as nearly the entire gym erupted in jubilation. With signs, thunder sticks and many chants, the Port faithful seemed to distract the Long Beach squad. By the end of the third quarter, Port had only an 8 point lead, yet, if you looked at the team's confidence, it was an eight point lead that they were not going to give up. Moran hit a big three pointer at the beginning of the fourth quarter which boosted the rest of the team's spirits. After some slick passing from forwards Mike Ryder and Mike Bellino, who both had stellar defensive games, Port had a comfortable 10 point lead that would never relinquish. Ira James put the exclamation point on an all around great night for the team, with a monster two-handed jam which had the entire gym burst into euphoria. The buzzer sounded and the Vikings had defended their home court very well, giving them and their fans a much needed win, by the final score of 65-54 over a talented Long Beach team.
With a long road ahead, the boys will probably need to run the table if they are to have any hope of making it to the Nassau Championship Tournament. However, with the return of star Ira James and the return of guard Brian Moran from injury, along with the great play from Fred Dumpson, Port will be tough to beat down the stretch. It seems that Port's coaching staff has put more emphasis on defense, as Port played tenacious in the half court with a tough zone defense. The boys have their next game this upcoming Friday at 7 p.m. in the Schreiber High School Gym against Lawrence. It might be hard for Port to make it to where they want to go, which is ultimately a county championship, but every great thing starts sometime, and by the way that the team performed last Friday, that sometime is right now.